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Old 08-30-2006, 08:48 AM
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Becoming a gunsmith

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How long does it take to become a gunsmith? I realize that you could probably take classes or learn all your life and still not know everything, but in general, to be able to become a gunsmith, how long would it take?

Also, how much do the classes cost?

Is becoming a gunsmith a viable career choice? Could someone make a living doing just gunsmithing or is it pretty much a saturated field?
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Old 08-30-2006, 08:58 AM
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Location: Peck, Idaho
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With the education required you'll make more money becoming a machinest. I spent a lot of years running a small part time gunsmith shop. Part time! Though I loved the work it did'nt make me a living.

With that said my suggestion is to talk to working gunsmiths and see how there doing. Getting it from the horses mouth is the best method to find out if this career will, well be a career.

There are several gunsmith schools around the country and probably two years is the minimum time you'll want to spend to learn the skills necessary for basic gunsmith repair work. If you plan to get into one of the specialties then it'll take longer.

There are some good recorded classes available from Brownell's. Brownells is one of the major gunsmith supply houses. You also might give their tech section an email with this same question. They have some pretty savvy guys working there.
Bob from Idaho
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Old 08-30-2006, 02:49 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Ohio
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The gunsmith I worked with had really busy times and really slow times. It gets hard to make the bills when nobody is bringing in guns to be repaired. Deer season is about the busiest time of the year. You will need those machinist classes to be a good gunsmith anyway, so it might do you better to just be a machinist and do gun work on the side.
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Old 08-30-2006, 03:29 PM
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Some folks are making good money being a gunsmith, but lots are just getting by. This is not a field that your going to get rich in. On the other hand the skills required are the same skills that make good money in a machine shop.

My advice for a young guy just starting out is obtain those skills. Work for a company as a machinest and start your gunsmith business on the side.

You may just be able to work it into a full time business while your learning the ropes and making a living. I've got several talented friends whom are out of the business now simply because they needed to make a living to feed their families and Smithing could not provide that year round check that mortgage companies and grocery stores like.

Another thing is this is a skill that can take some years to master and the rent don't stop while your doing the mastering.
Bob from Idaho
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Old 08-31-2006, 01:22 PM
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Location: South Central PA
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There aren't many good ones around here anymore. Rich Woodward, who used to have his shop in Shermans Dale is over at Bass Pro in Harrisburg. Moyers in Carlisle is about the only one with a decent reputation around any more, and they are know as being a little slow sometimes. There is definately a void in our area, but that is probably for the reasons outlined above, I have thought about it myself at times too
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul

Not because of who I am, but because of what HE's done, not because of what I've done, but because of who HE is. -Casting Crowns
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Old 08-31-2006, 03:28 PM
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If you have the skills to become a top gunsmith you could also become a top tool maker.

I did it for 10 years not counting trade school. The company I was with started downhill (aerospace) and I was getting tired of it. I went back to school and finished my degree and have a white collar job now. After seven years I'm still not making the money I did in the shop.

I still dream about gettting a nice Southbend lathe and Bridgeport mill and starting my own little shop. It would take a long time to pay for them doing gun work.
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Old 08-31-2006, 05:18 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 6,010
I am not a "smith" by any stretch! I have done work for local gunshops over the years. Near this time of year, some were overwhelmed with "it don't work" problems. Found that I could take an "armload" home and resolve most trouble one problem at a time. Perhaps one gun per evening after my regular work. Could take them back to the shop and order parts or whatever and get a new armful of problems.
None of this was "smithing". Was just repair work.
I enjoy it! I made money making a gun that did not work, work!
I was a repairman.

A "smith" is a person that takes in something that works and makes it work better!

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Old 09-05-2006, 10:22 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Mukilteo, Washington
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Here's what I did, I spent 2 years at Trinidad State College and got a degree in gunsmithing. Those 2 years just gives you a good foundation to build on. Specialize in an area of gunsmithing that you find interesting and become the best in that area. People from around the country will find you.

General gunsmithing is a money looser, to much overhead to make the business work. Why be the best gunsmith in your county or town, when you can be the best in the country and have a much larger customer base.
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